MINSK, December 12, 2013 – Belarus’ Water and Sanitation Sector requires a new approach to achieve its objectives of addressing water supply quality issues, closing water supply and sanitation coverage gaps in rural areas, expanding wastewater treatment capacity and aligning it with European standards, says a World Bank report Republic of Belarus: Municipal Water Sector Review presented to Belarusian stakeholders.
The report offers a diagnostic of the water and wastewater services, addressing the sector’s institutional, organizational, technical, and economic aspects, with a specific focus on urban areas. It documents the achievements made so far, identifies areas that need strengthening, and suggests policies to help guide the Government as it seeks to increase the efficiency and sustainability of water and wastewater services.
The review concludes that the coverage, quality, and reliability of the services have improved steadily over the last decade, reaching high levels of service particularly in urban areas. Despite these successes thus far, issues remain in particular with access to services in rural areas and expansion of wastewater treatment services. Financing sector development presents a major challenge given the rapid reduction of operating subsidies and elimination of cross-subsidization planned by the Government. These challenges call for sound sector policies conducive to economically efficient investment programs and to increased operational efficiency among service providers.
“The policy recommendations aim to identify reform opportunities to enhance the quality of water and wastewater services in the country,” said Stephane Dahan, World Bank Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist and lead author of the report. “The report findings also inform preparation of Additional Financing to Belarus Water Supply and Sanitation Project currently under development.”
The report recommends developing a national strategy of the water and sanitation sector , consolidating service providers into regional entities, developing performance-oriented management approaches within service providers, reviewing design norms, and clarifying a tariff policy ensuring both the long-term sustainability and affordability of water and wastewater services in Belarus.
The current World Bank investment lending portfolio in Belarus includes 5 operations for a total amount of USD 547.5 million. Since Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992, commitments to the country have totaled USD 955 million. In addition, grant financing totaling USD 23.7 million has been provided to about 30 programs including those with civil society organizations.